Monday, June 2, 2008

Don't Mess with Moses!

Your child's Christian bookshelf needn't be filled only with serious books. The Bible itself contains some pretty amusing tales (Balaam's talking donkey is an excellent example!), so why shouldn't books about the Bible be fun, too? Enter Don't Mess with Moses! by songwriter Marty Nystrom. Packed with fun and laugh-out-loud poems, this volume is sure to please any kid.

Reminding me a bit of Shel Silverstein, Nystrom manages to pack page after page with humorous poems telling Old Testament stories or making comments on them. There are poems about the Bible's best-selling status, the SHEroes of the Bible, quips about not being a descendant of apes, Adam's extremely short family tree, the first sibling rivals (Cain and Abel), Noah's crazy ark, and much, much more. The poem recounting the days of creation - and another about the plagues of Egypt - are a great way to help your kids memorize parts of the Bible, and many of the poems will help your child see Bible stories in a new light. For example, there's a poem thanking God for creating light, otherwise "I am sure a sleepyhead,/you bet I'd forget/when to roll out of bed." Another poem draws attention to the fact that money, television, and many other things can act as our modern-day "golden calves." Another points out that

"Adam had no cousins,
Adam had no toys,
he never went to recess,
or played ball with other boys...
Adam never had a childhood."

And some poems are just plain fun. One, about Samson's hair, suggests children point out that story when their parents want them to get a hair cut. Another focuses on a young boy's horror when he develops a side ache; he's sure God is making his aching rib into a wife for him. One of my favorites from the volume, titled "Messy," is the poem of a little boy who is constantly making messes that are tough for his mother to clean up. He gets spaghetti on her "dry clean only" skirt, catsup on his brother's brand new shirt, and frosting all over his face.
"Good thing ol' Adam had no mom;
he'd get his feelings hurt,
'cause the Bible says that Adam was
completely made of dirt!"

The accompanying illustration shows the boy walking away from a mess saying "Just bein' biblical, Mom."

What I Like: This book is such a fun way to get your kids more involved with Bible stories. It appeals to a very wide age range; heck, I read it for my own enjoyment. The sketchy, wacky illustrations by Steve Bjorkman are exactly what was called for. Best of all, the author prompts readers to set down the book and explore the Bible itself. Several poems don't reveal the ending of certain Bible stories, and instead tell the reader to check a particular chapter of the Bible. And nearly every poem is accompanied by a "read more" note, pointing to a particular chapter or verse. I think this is a book every Christian family should own.

What I Dislike: There's little to dislike here, but some parents will be put off by the fact that the days of creation poem is told Monday through Sunday. This isn't historically accurate, and not all Christian worship on Sunday. Also, in one poem about David and Goliath, a large illustration depicts Goliath's head with blood splattering from it. Parents of younger children may want to skip that two-page spread.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: The publisher recommends this book for kids 6 - 12, but by 2 1/2 year old loves it...and I do, too!

Publishing Info: Standard, 2006; ISBN: 0784718334; hardback, $16.99

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